Ron Padgett

Performance Anxiety


In 34 minutes I have to drive
in to town, so composing a lyric poem
is going to be hard
because 1) I’m not Frank O’Hara
and 2) having a time limit is tough.
Frank dashed off a poem
(“Quick, another poem before
I go off my rocker!”)
but with a time limit?
I don’t think I’ll ever go
off my rocker, though I will get older
and sadder and if bad things happen
deeply depressed. It took
three minutes to write that,
only three minutes to depress myself!
Now three minutes
to write myself out of it,
for who wants to drive depressed,
especially in a pleasant little car
along a country highway
with green hills and dairy cows?
Not I, said the little white poet.
Actually I’m not so little.
I’m a good height, six one
and change. Thinking of it
I feel better already, almost okay!